Already and Not Yet

A few years ago, I started blogging as an outlet for my periodic devotional writings. While I still post the occasional devo piece, my blog has also evolved into a repository for my thoughts on a variety of things: family, politics, faith, ethics, baseball, music, movies, prayer requests…these things are the fabric of my life and, as such, comprise the content of this little blog.

When I began this little foray into the blogosphere, I was faced with a question that has befuddled many a novice blogger: What should I call this thing? I kicked around a lot of ideas, most of which were insanely cheesy, like Bybee’s Banter or Jason’s Journal or my personal favorite Jabs by JAB. (Like I said, cheesy.) None of those titles really cranked my tractor, though. After toying around with several names, I settled on Already & Not Yet, a phrase full of significance for me.

Theologians use this term to describe our eschatalogical state of being. Basically it’s the idea that as believers, we are part of God’s Kingdom already. In Luke 17, Jesus says to the Pharisees:

The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you. — Luke 17:20-21, The Message

Jesus spoke of His Kingdom as a present reality in the first century. Disciples of Christ participate in this Kingdom, His present reign. Through faith, Christ’s disciples are invited to participate in a Kingdom where peace reigns — where swords are beaten into plowshares (Isa. 2) — and the natural order of enmity is redeemed and reconciled (Isa. 11). This Kingdom life is the product of faith. And, in a very real way, followers of Christ participate in that Kingdom now, a Kingdom where the first are last, the least are the greatest, service is selfless and love endures.

But Christ’s Kingdom has yet to be fully consummated. Evil is still pervasive. The present order of the sword is yet to be redeemed. Wolf and lamb, calf and lion are yet to experience reconciliation. Thus, we live “between the times”, to borrow another phrase from the scholars. We live between what Christ has already done and what He’s yet to do. Our charge is to be the in-breaking of the Kingdom in the here and now. In short, we are called to be Kingdom come.

Already & not yet also describes our present soteriological status. Through faith, we experience the full pardon of our sin already; we stand justified before God because of our association with the blood of Christ. And yet, we still await the judgment when the final pronouncement shall be made and we will experience forgiveness and mercy in an ultimate, eternal way. So, from a certain point of view, salvation is both already and not yet.

I chose this concept as a title for my blog for both its theological implications and its resonance with me as a marker of my developing identity as a disciple. Here’s what I wrote about this a few years ago:

My blog’s title, Already & Not Yet, succinctly expresses not only a theological truth but a developing worldview for me. Life is lived “already and not yet”. It’s about who we find ourselves to be in this moment coupled with the recognition that we’ve not fully arrived. It expresses something about how we are to value life lived today with a nod toward the hopeful anticipation of something more on the horizon. It’s acknowledging that I’m a member of a Kingdom that is both a present reality and a future development. It calls me to live faithfully as a member of this inbreaking Kingdom NOW with an understanding that the beauty of this life is fully realized in a Kingdom yet to come. It is this beautiful tension that most fully expresses the most fundamental truths of the abundant life that is ours in Christ. On my good days and, perhaps most especially, on my bad days, I desperately need to be reminded that I am both “already” and “not yet”. This is a truth I hold most dear.

These words serve as a reminder that I’m not a finished product. Indeed, I need to be reminded of who I already am — as a disciple, as a husband, as a father, as a minister. And I should also keep in mind that I’m not yet who He intends me to be. I’m still arriving. I pray I always will be.

Today I praise God for what He’s already done for me and in me.

And I praise Him for what He’s yet to do.

May Your Kingdom dwell in me, O Jesus, my Lord…

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